A United Kingdom Divided: How the American Civil War changed Britain.
In 1861 the United Kingdom would be changed forever, not directly because of decisions the Parliament or Queen Victoria had made though certain decisions did cause the change partly, because of a series of decisions made by a country on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean called the United States of America. The US had been making decisions on one decisive issue from when it originally revolted from Great Britain in 1776, this issue was over whether or not the institution of slavery should be allowed to continue in the US, this was a debate that ended up splitting the country and led to one of the most significant revolutions and subsequent wars of the mid-late 1800’s. To fully understand why the British were involved in the American Civil war and how it connects to the idea of revolution, reaction, and reform one must look at British diplomacy and policy towards the U.S before, during, and after the American Civil War and consider how it revolutionized thought in both the US and the UK, how the British government and the British people reacted to the revolution respectively, and how the UK’s society and economy were changed, reformed, and reconstructed during and after the war so they could be better prepared if another catastrophic event like the American Civil War were to ever happen again The Victorian era began with the ascension of Queen Victoria to the throne on the 20th of June 1837 (though some scholars argue it began with the Reform Act of 1832) and her corresponding coronation at Buckingham Palace on the 28th of June 1838. The first 20 years of the Victorian era were a time of peaceful consolidation and nation building for the British Empire, throughout Victoria’s reign and afterwards the UK would be going through a long period of momentous social, economic, military, and cultural evolution’s. Queen Victoria’s reign was a time of unparalleled economic, military, political dominance for The British Empire, most notably in its utter domination of the sea trade because of the massive Royal Navy, throughout her reign the Empire was able to not only expand its national interests throughout the world, but expand its territorial and economic borders in Africa, India, Canada, and elsewhere. Victoria’s reign coincided with a period of British history known today as the Pax Britannica (Latin for the British Peace); which lasted from approximately 1815 to 1914 and was called the Pax Britannica because of the relative peace and stability in Europe, with the exception of the Crimean war (October 1853-February 1856) and the Franco-Prussian war(July 19th 1870-May 10th 1871). During the Pax Britannica the UK acted as the world’s Hegemon, with the duty of policing the world and maintaining the first prolonged period of relative peace in Europe since the Hundred Years war. Britain had claimed the world spotlight and the world stage in 1814 and 1815; it symbolically took its place as the foremost country in Europe and the world on Sunday, June 18th 1815, with the final defeat of Napoléon Bonaparte at waterloo and his subsequent abdication and final exile to the island of St. Helena after the Hundred Days, and more formally during the Congress of Vienna when it was recognized as one of the “great powers” of Europe. The Pax Britannica started with the defeat of Napoléon and the end of the Congress of Vienna and it ended with the start of World War I, but even with the end of the great period of the British dominance of the world stage they would continue to be one of the most powerful nations on earth. Britain and the U.S had a very complicated relationship from the American Revolution up to the Civil War, although it was greatly simplified after the Civil War the more modern concept of the “special relationship” between the nations would begin to reveal itself. British policy and diplomatic strategy towards the “Yanks” during the pre-war era had always been...
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